Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In this entry, I'd like to stray a little bit from class reflection and take a look at ballet as it is portrayed in other art forms.
Ballet, for many, and certainly for myself, is extremely aesthetically pleasing. And it also has an aesthetic that is very familiar in both classic and popular culture.
Every little girl is a ballerina at some point. I don't know how many girls I know that at least took a ballet class or two at the age of 3 or 4. There is just something that attracts many from a very young age to this art.
The long lines, the pale pink satin shoes, the ruffles of a tutu, the romance in the dance, the grace, the strength, etc.
Anyway, when I think about ballet as it is represented in other art, I think the first man my mind jumps to, and I'm sure yours does as well, is Degas.

A french artist in 19th century, Edgar Degas is famous for his portrayals of dancers in drawings, paintings, and sculpture.
Let me just say I was OBSESSED with Degas as a kid. My grandmother took me to see an exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Art and I was hooked. He was not only capturing intimate scenes that were not normally open to the public, but he truly captured the emotion of his subjects.

Here is a link to my favorite 3 Dimensional Piece:

This statue has been both revered and criticized for it's life-like nature.
In February, the statue was sold in London for 23.6 Million dollars.
Here is the article:

Here is my favorite painting:

He had many paintings similar this one, but I've always liked the violinist in the corner.

Somewhat serendipitously, my final performance with my dance studio was called "Portraits of Degas." We emulated both the classic classrooms that he painted (wearing attire like that shown in the painting and dancing with bars on the stage) and some wore very classic performance tutus. It was beautiful.
There are many photographers who have used ballet as their main focus as well, often capturing the sweat and blood of the art in photos like this:

I think the photography really portrays an interesting juxtaposition that exists in ballet. Beautiful but painful, flowing and effortless in appearance, but requiring so much strength and work.
I shudder when I remember how many blisters I used to have on my feet.

In the end, I think ballet really has a lasting affect as an art form in itself, and as an influence on artists in other medias.
I know I myself have and will continue to look to ballet for inspiration!

I Need a Vacation from my Life

Well, unfortunately, today was one of those days where I had to finally admit to overworking myself and take a day to rest and recoop. This, much to my dismay, meant I had to miss ballet this morning. (And I'm not being sarcastic when I say I was sad to miss it, it's honestly one of my favorite parts of the week!)
Anyway, I've definitely come down with something, and I have become both mentally frail and physically exhausted due to my ridiculous schedule as of late.
I am currently taking 6 classes and spending 4 to 7 hours, 6 days a week, rehearsing for The Pirates of Penzance.
I am just stretched (tendu?!) far to thin right now. But as I said, ballet is a quality part of my week. It is a combination of the music, the movement, and I guess just the feeling I get that I am actually using the muscles in my body and becoming stronger that gives me an ounce of pleasure after every class. I feel a both a sense of release and a feeling of relief from my everyday life.
Since my last entry, we have added a lot of moves and new exercises. I have been trying to do the stomach/crunch series at home everyday, and I'm finding it has started to become easier. I think my favorite new move would have to be the chenne turn. As I said before, they are one of my favorite things to do, though I was sort of put off by the addition of the chase. I've grown accustom to just turning, turning, turning, and it made me have to slow down and sort of dissect the movement having the added step. I also have been trying to drama it up a bit. Sometimes in dance I think it is easy to become focused on the technical aspects, and caught up in that running inner dialog of "am I pulled up, is my butt tucked in, is my leg turned out?" and forget that what you're doing is an art, that it should be beautiful, graceful and visually appealing. I've been trying to add in a head now and then, and I hope that it has been affective.
I am also extremely excited to have started working on the dance. I was pleasantly surprised by the choice of music. I was expecting the usual slow, classical bar work type thing for a beginning class, but I think the fast pace music will be very effective. It makes it exciting and gives us the ability to use both simple and intermediate steps while keeping the audience engaged.
Good job!
I have to say though, I think about 45% of my brain is being used to store choreography right now. Pirates of Penzance is an operetta, which of course means that 80% of the show is sung. And as we know, singing comes with choreography. I have become such a machine over the past few months, that I can pick up choreography like (insert finger snap) that! Our choreography, as part of the process, changes almost daily, and we have to be able to remember these changes and perform them correctly. We also most of our songs in corsettes, on rocks, in tight dresses and heals. Yikes!
Anyway, my crazy choreography state of mind is making our class choreography easy, but also somewhat painful because not everyone is quite up to my speed. (That sounded arrogant, but I didn't mean it that way.) It's also hard because unlike a show where you will be kicked out if you choose not to show, there are times where class has to be missed and we are allowed a few sick days. Because of this, we must move slower in order to fill in holes and move things around.
But at any rate, I am enjoying it.
As we near the end of class, I'm really sad to see it go. I guess my fear is that after it's over I won't have the time to fit in another dance class or money to pay for an outside dance class. I'd really like to continue using ballet as a means to get back into dance/exercise.
I've tried other kinds of dance and many different activities, but there is nothing that appeals to my aesthetic quite like ballet.
We'll see what happens I suppose!